Substub disease

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Substub disease is a condition that affects Wikipedia contributors. It is highly contagious and can be devastating to the quality of a wiki.


A person who has substub disease is easy to diagnose. The primary symptom is that victims tend to create numerous articles that are (at most) one sentence long — often less. These sentences follow the form:

XXXXX is/was YYYYY in/above/about/around/during ZZZZZ.

These articles have little or no context. Effectively, these articles are garbage and should be speedily-deleted.

There are two ways to contract substub disease — spontaneously and by contagion. New users are prone to the spontaneous variety. However, other users (sometimes well-known, good users) tend to see the creation of these substubs and follow suit. They have caught the disease.


Substub articles must be speedily deleted on sight.

Fortunately for sufferers, substub disease is curable. Users who create them should be scolded, warned, cajoled, or otherwise made to realize that they have a disease that must be cured. If the scolding is vociferous enough, this treatment is known to be effective.

Suggested remedial therapies:

  • Refer the user to this page: [[m:Substub disease]]
  • Offer the user a thought experiment: in the time it takes you to create 1,000 substubs, you could easily have written at least one high-quality article of 1,000 words or more. Now, think of yourself as an average reader. Which would you rather read: the 1,000+ word article, or 1,000 choppy sentences? The answer is obvious.
  • Quote adages to the user until it sinks in.
    • A single 1,000+ word article is at least 1,000 times better than 1,000 substubs.
    • Aim for depth, not breadth.
  • At the very least, aim for a partial cure. Stub disease is not nearly as ravaging to the quality of the wiki as is substub disease. Quality stubs take time and thought to write. If you can get the user to write them instead of substubs, you've at least got them thinking before they write. You've eliminated the duckspeak-like thoughtless efficiency that is the essential component of substub disease.

On other wikis[edit]

Substub disease is primarily a Wikipedian concern, though it certainly is possible for transwiki cross-pollination to occur. Fortunately, the conditions on other wikis generally make them less susceptible to substub disease:

  • The Wiktionary allows dicdefs, of course. However, the ideal dictionary entry (usages, etymology, etc.) is much longer than stub length. Additionally, it is easy to create new definitions. These two factors make it susceptible to substub disease.
  • Wikibooks is largely immune, as few users are inclined to create a one-sentence book.
  • Similarly, on Commons, few would bother to create a gallery of one image.
  • Wikiquotes is also largely immune to substub disease, because it is generally acceptable to add a single quotation at a time. However, a related condition occurs when users place quotations haphazardly in incorrect sections, not creating author pages.
  • Wikisource, too, is largely immune, for the same reason as Wikibooks.
  • Meta-wiki is not and probably never will be regularly contributed to by new users, and therefore is less susceptible to substub disease.

See also[edit]

  • Namespace shift, a symptom which may occur in favor of the main namespace when a user catches substub disease.